US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

Chad P. Bown (PIIE)

March 16, 2021

This chart, originally published on September 20, 2019, will be updated as China and the United States change their tariffs. For more information, see The US-China trade war and phase one agreement and Trump's Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide.

US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

The February 14, 2020 implementation of the phase one deal between the United States and China established new US tariffs on imports from China for the foreseeable future. Average US tariffs on imports from China remain elevated at 19.3 percent. These tariffs are more than six times higher than before the trade war began in 2018. These tariffs cover 66.4 percent of Chinese exports to the United States.

Average Chinese tariffs on imports from the United States also remain elevated at an average of 20.7 percent. China’s retaliatory tariffs continue to cover 58.3 percent of US exports to China. On February 17, 2020, the Chinese government announced an exclusion process whereby Chinese companies could apply for a temporary exemption from the retaliatory tariffs. Yet questions remain about whether China will be able to live up to the commitment of purchasing an additional $200 billion of US goods and services over 2020 and 2021, as described in the legal agreement signed on January 15, 2020.

Overall, the trade war proceeded in five stages between 2018 and 2021. The first six months of 2018 featured only a moderate increase in tariffs. The months of July through September 2018 resulted in a sharp tariff increase on both sides: US average tariffs increased from 3.8 percent to 12.0 percent, and China's average tariffs increased from 7.2 percent to 18.3 percent. In stage three, there was an 8-month period (September 25, 2018, through June 2019) of little change in tariffs. From June to September 2019, another set of tariff increases kicked in. In the current stage five, and despite the phase one agreement, tariffs between the two countries remain elevated and are the new normal.

During this same period, China has lowered the tariffs it applies on imports from the rest of the world. China’s average tariffs toward those exporters have declined from 8.0 percent in early 2018 to 6.1 percent by early 2021. The United States increased its average tariffs on imports from the rest of the world from 2.2 percent to 3.0 percent over this same period.

This chart was adapted from data available in Chad P. Bown's Working Paper, The US-China trade war and phase one agreement. For information on the temporary product exclusions to the tariffs that each side granted in 2018–20, see the paper.

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